Updated: Aug 3
Dir. Terence Young (1915-94)'s classical spy genre film 007 series was established by this film in 1962. It was not based on the first 007 novel Casino Royale (1953) written by Ian Fleming (1908-64). It's obviously a Cold War era's spy story that mainly depicts both MI6 and CIA as protagonists. The political stance is obvious that it opposes the Eastern bloc and serves the Western establishments.
This film is single camera work as the most of European films in general. And the editor Peter R. Hunt's cutting is based on master shots and additional sets of reverse shots between characters involved in scenes. For example, at the beginning of the film in a "now-famous nightclub sequence featuring Sylvia Trench", editing was done in this way and the cutback between reverse shots and the master shot pretty discontinued.
Besides this, the first assault scene at the beginning of the film is remarkable that when John Strangways, the British MI6 Station Chief in Jamaica, and his secretary are ambushed and killed, we can see that quick cuts fit the rhythm of silencers firing. Of course, this was done by one camera due to reverse shots and cutaways are separable in shooting.
In Perter Hunt's aesthetic view, quick / jumpy cutting with fast motions are technical solution to ease script flaws. Actually this is more sophisticated and cinematic than live time synchronisation of editing time with actions. Style is cutting off unnecessary parts from the process of organising a whole. Similar suggestion was done by Akira Kurosawa in 1990s about Japanese editorial tendency. His interview cited below:
Peter Hunt was perhaps one of the most integral members of the James Bond team, using his vast skills as a film editor and director to help create a pace and style that helped to launch a phenomenon that still touches the world some two and a half decades after the film series began.
He first joined up with Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman, Terence Young and the rest of the 007 team for 1962's Dr. No, on which he served as editor. He repeated this task on From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice. From there he segued to the position of director on the sixth film in the series, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, considered by many to be one of the best Bond films ever.
Unfortunately, after that film he left the folds of Bondage, turning his directorial sights to other films. One can only hope that someday he will be persuaded to return to the series, and help further the series he helped to create. Our conversation begins with the director's assertion that the impact of James Bond was every bit as significant to the sixties as the Beatles.
Q: My feeling has always been that what the Beatles did for music, James Bond did for film.
A: Right, exactly, at that time. Of course everybody has forgotten that now, because we've all fallen into that idiom in the way of presenting films. We always cut films in the way I did Dr. No, but at that time that was something completely different to do. If you looked at any films made before 1961, even American films, they always have the guy walking down the steps, through the gates, getting into the car and driving away. We don't do any of that anymore [laughs]. The fellow says he's going, and he's there.
Q: Cut to the chase.
A: Exactly, which is what I did in Dr. No in order to make it move fast and push it along the whole time, while giving it a certain style. Now, of course, that style is standard for everything. It's very interesting, really, when I think back to it all. What's really funny is that the Beatles used to come to our showings. I knew them all. They were good kids, really. We had offices in London, and in the basement we had a theatre, and they were often guests. They also were great fans of James Bond.
Q: One question I've always pondered, is Terence Young's statement in one of the Bond fanzines that Goldfinger was in serious production and editing trouble, when the decision was made to shoot Thunderball quickly, release it first, and then release Goldfinger about six months later. But Young supposedly made editing suggestions that saved Goldfinger.
A: [laughs] I don't know anything about that, but I don't think that can be true, because Thunderball was going through litigation at that time. Remember, it belonged to Kevin McClory. That was one of the ones that didn't belong to Broccoli, Saltzman and United Artists at the time, because Fleming had written the book Thunderball from a screenplay which Kevin McClory claims--and he won the case--he and Jack Wittingham wrote, which was not a book, but because they could never get it lifted off as a film...Fleming had run out of ideas, or was running out of ideas, and said, "Oh, I might as well write and publish this as a book," and then of course McClory said, "You can't do that. You haven't even said that I contributed to it or Jack Whittingham did." They had a big court case, which I think was settled out of court, and then of course the screen rights became Kevin McClory's. If you look at the titles of Thunderball, Kevin McClory is the producer. After Goldfinger there was some talk where everyone debated whether they should do Thunderball or one of the others.
Q: I had read that they were planning on doing On Her Majesty's Secret Service after Thunderball.
A: Originally, yes, which I was going to do. I was promised the film after Thunderball, but they found themselves in a contractual mix-up with other directors on hand, and I got pushed out into the cold, because it was going to be my first film. Eventually, though, I did do it, because what they did...you see, On Her Majesty's Secret Service should have come before You Only Live Twice in the series of events that Fleming wrote. At the end of On Her Majesty's Secret Service the wife is killed, and then in You Only Live Twice he is sent to Japan to extract revenge from Blofeld, and the series went on from there. But they did it the other way around and altered the ending of You Only Live Twice. At that time, in fact, I know they had branched out and had put several directors under contract to do other things for them, and they decided they wouldn't do the other things, and they found themselves either having to pay off these other directors or use them. So they were used in various ways for other things. For instance, Lewis Gilbert, whose editor I had been for many years, was signed to direct You Only Live Twice, which is how that came about. But Thunderball interested me insofar that until the court case was settled, they wouldn't touch it at all, and the case was still going on while we made Goldfinger, so I don't know what events he is talking about.
Terence was extremely instrumental in the whole style of the films. He was extremely encouraging to me in our early style of Dr. No and From Russia With Love, and one cannot underestimate the personality of Terence that was interjected into the character of James Bond and Sean Connery's playing of it in the early films. There's no doubt about it, and he was the right man for the job at the time; a very good filmmaker. He's getting on a bit now, I suppose, like us all [laughs].
Q: Bond was so different for its time. As far as you're concerned, how did the whole thing come about?
A: I was a top English film editor in those days. Harry Saltzman, who came across to England and the first film he made was Look Back in Anger, which starred Richard Burton, had been connected to theatre and various things during the early fifties. The war was over, and I was editing, and Harry had always wanted to use me. When he made a film he'd call me and say, "Come on, let's make a film together," and each time I was either in the middle of a film or about to do another film, so I had never been able to do it. But we kept on good terms, and it was Harry who got a hold of me when he was doing Dr. No. It happened that I wasn't do anything else at that time. I've known Terence since I was a boy; I'd been assistant on several films with him, and I'd always liked him. So all of that sort of slotted into place, and I found myself editing Dr. No.
Now on Dr. No, of course, they had a lot of production problems; it was a very cheap production, completely unlike the amount of money they spend today. There were an enormous amount of challenges and problems. They had terrible weather in Jamaica, and they didn't shoot half of what they were supposed to shoot, so there was a great deal of ingenuity and creativity that went into the making of the film. That's really how Dr. No was born, as it were, and at that time, in fact, nobody gave much thought to the film. They just thought it was a cheap film being made at Pinewood, and it was only when it finally....all cutters, editors and people like that are cynical beings because they see the material so much, so often, but we thought Dr. No was marvelous fun, and we tried to make it more amusing wherever we could. Terence wasn't quite so sure about all of that. He thought we were setting him up with this film [laughs]. Anyway, he went along with it and various things that I suggested, because we had to get it moving as a film and make it all work. Out of necessity, the problems of production, Dr. No was born.
I don't think that before it was run with an audience anyone knew what we had, and it was only when a large audience at the London Pavilion saw it that they fell about and enjoyed it, that it suddenly dawned on them what we had here. We had an entirely new type of film. You must remember that the climate of the audiences at the time was very "kitchen sink." It was all for actresses doing the washing up, and the housework, the sleazy back room about hard lives, which I guess the audience had become a bit bored with. Here was an absolute breath of fantasy, glamour, and they loved it. Like everything, it had a certain amount of luck when it came out, which is why I guess it took off. That's what I think, anyway. Then after the opening it was very successful, and United Artists was pleased, although I don